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Tucson bike share to become reality after city council vote

City of Tucson photo illustration.

City of Tucson photo illustration.

The Tucson City Council greenlighted a bike share program with a simple vote last week.

“Bike share is going to happen,” Ann Chanecka the city’s bike and pedestrian planner said.

Her department has secured $1.3 million in grants to select an operator and purchase the equipment needed to have an estimated 30 stations and 300 bikes scattered throughout the city.

Chanecka said the launch will happen in 2017.

The city estimates the cost to operate the bike share to be about $500-600k per year with user fees covering about half and grants and private sponsorship making up the other half.

The city will be on the hook for any shortfalls, however.

Chanecka said the city has already received several commitments from the private sector for and is “confident” those will continue into the future.

Tucson will follow about 80 other cities who have launched a bike share system around the United States.

“None [of the 80] have taken them out,” she said. “Some have changed their setup.”

Chanecka said the city will request proposals from bike share companies and will select the company that is the best fit.

The fee structure will be determined in consultation with the operator the city selects.

“We are trying to design the bike share system to compliment transit,” she said.

In addition to complementing existing transit, Chanecka said bike share helps with economic development, which is a “natural extension to what is happening downtown.”

One thing Chanecka¬†didn’t realize until a chat with her counterpart in Salt Lake City is that bike share raises the profile of biking and showed Salt Lake City business that people do show up by bicycle, which made it easier to complete projects in the future.

Check out previous stories about Tucson’s bike share.